Penn community members expressed support for the Israeli restaurant Goldie following a pro-Palestinian protest for Gaza — which has drawn criticism from elected officials for antisemitism — outside of its Center City location.
On Dec. 3, demonstrators marched from Center City along Walnut Street demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. They gathered outside the Goldie location in Rittenhouse Square, chanting, "Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide." Numerous officials called the rhetoric of the protestors antisemitic and condemned the demonstration.
Goldie has another location at Franklin's Table near campus. Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov is the co-owner of CookNSolo Restaurants, a group of seven Philadelphia restaurants that include Zahav, Laser Wolf, and Goldie. On Monday, Penn Hillel posted a story to its Instagram encouraging Penn community members to support the Goldie location inside Franklin’s Table near campus.
“On Sunday night, December 3rd, Goldie was targeted and mobbed because it is a Jewish and Israeli-owned restaurant,” the post said. “This week, let’s make the lines longer at Goldie.”
College junior and Vice President of Israel Engagement Maya Harpaz, who created the graphic for the Penn Hillel post, said that she wanted to show support for Jewish and Israeli-owned businesses.
“[The post] is encouraging people to show that when hateful things happen, we're not going to back down,” Harpaz said. “And we're not going to be scared to not go somewhere because of it.”
In November, Harpaz organized a lunch at Hillel to host Solomonov and 1995 Wharton graduate Steven Cook, the co-owner of CookNSolo Restaurants. Harpaz said that this preexisting connection to Goldie contributed to her desire to show support for Solomonov and his employees following Sunday night’s protest.
After briefly opening Monday morning, the Goldie location inside Franklin’s Table closed around noon due to facility issues, according to Goldie employees and a sign posted on the ordering counter. In an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Goldie attributed the closure to an equipment issue. The location later reopened around 3:30 p.m.
College junior Carly Spandorfer said that the recent targeting of Jewish and Israeli institutions, including Goldie, felt like a “personal threat and definitely worrisome” for many members of the Jewish community.
“I think it’s particularly unfair because they’re not directly responsible for what’s happening in the Middle East,” Spandorfer said. “When these institutions are sought out and targeted for being Israeli or Jewish, it feels like a personal attack.”
Spandorfer said that she was considering ordering from Goldie but was unable to because she arrived during the location’s temporary closure.
“I think the Jewish community has a tendency to try and gather together and show support for these types of institutions,” Spandorfer said. “When bad things happen, we want to rally together and become stronger as a community.”
Solomonov has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for various ties to Israeli institutions. After the 7 October Hamas attacks, he pledged to donate 100% of sales from his restaurants to a non-profit Israeli medical aid group.
Some of the demonstrators reportedly say that the restaurant was targeted because CookNSolo raised over $100,000 for the Friends of United Hatzalah — an Israeli volunteer EMS organization that provided emergency relief services to Israeli Defense Force soldiers after Hamas' attack on Oct. 7. Philly Palestine Coalition has reportedly called for a boycott of Goldie and other restaurants in Philadelphia for their connections to Israel.
This.Is.Penn, a campaign to raise awareness of antisemitism on Penn’s campus, also urged students to order from Goldie in a separate Instagram post on Monday.
“Come out and support [Solomonov] and Goldie TODAY after the pro-Palestinian riots in Philadelphia yesterday targeted them. We are stronger together,” the post read.
The Philly Palestine Coalition — which organized the demonstration — denied that their chants and protest were antisemitic, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“We made a two-to-four-minute pit stop,” Natalie Abulhawa, a coalition organizer, said to the Inquirer. “We are marching to call for an end to a genocide to Palestinians. We’re calling on our reps to do something — to stand up for what’s happening.”
The demonstration outside of Goldie has drawn sharp criticism from local and national officials. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro condemned the protest as antisemitic in a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday night.
“A restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli,” Shapiro wrote. “This hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a dark time in history.”
On Monday, the White House echoed Shapiro’s sentiment criticizing the demonstration.
“It is antisemitic and completely unjustifiable to target restaurants that serve Israeli food over disagreements with Israeli policy, as Governor Shapiro has underlined," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told CBS News. “This behavior reveals the kind of cruel and senseless double standard that is a calling card of antisemitism.”
Pennsylvania Congress member Brendan Boyle also condemned the protest in a post on X.
“I can’t believe I even have to say this but targeting businesses simply because they’re Jewish owned is despicable. Philadelphia stands against this sort of harassment and hate,” Boyle wrote.
Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney wrote on X that the Commission on Human Relations is reviewing the incident.
"While the City of Philadelphia will always protect free speech and peaceful protest, we must stand united against acts of hate and bias," he wrote.